Calistoga feral cat colony

Calistoga feral cat colony

Rainy season is around the corner, with that comes many changes to our environment, and we humans must adjust to cope with those changes, day to day. We know we’ll have to get out the umbrellas and the raincoats and the boots, and make sure our windshield wipers are up to snuff. We know what’s coming, and we prepare.

Imagine what it’s like for the outdoor cat that has created a home in a nice, dry culvert. Suddenly, dirty water is running through his living room! Soon he’ll need to find alternate living quarters.

Maybe under your deck or porch, or perhaps inside your storage shed when you don’t always close the door securely.

Ergo, you may suddenly start noticing a stray that hasn’t been around during the dry months. He’s trying to find a new safe sanctuary, one that isn’t wet. If you would like to provide shelter for a homeless cat and are wondering about the most efficient and cost-effective way to do it, email Calistoga Cat Action Team (calistogacatfriends@gmail.com) for some super-easy instructions, utilizing a large storage tub, some straw, and a piece of fleece.

You can make a rain-proof cat shelter for a lot less money than you think.

Remember: feeding and sheltering a feral cat is a wonderfully compassionate thing to do, but if you don’t also make the effort to trap and fix, your single stray could turn into a family, increasing the amount of food you must provide, the amount of poo you have to clean up, and the general impact on the community. For more information on trapping and spay/neuter options, contact C-CAT at the email above.

Most kittens are born in the spring and summer, with a few females giving birth in late September and even into October. Many of the kittens you are likely to see will not be tiny and cute — they will be in the 3- to 7-month-old range. This age group is pretty much past the time that they can be caught and socialized to become pets (there are always exceptions, of course).

And even if they are tiny, don’t count on there being an organization available to take them off your hands.

Shelters and rescues fill up fast during kitten season, and the number of volunteers out there that are trained to deal with feral kittens are few and far between. In other words, prevention is the key.

Now that fall is here, the chances of a teenage kitten getting pregnant are lessened, but not out of the realm of possibility.

Usually the cooler weather and shorter days make sure that the biological urge to reproduce is put on hold, but there are always those rare exceptions. You should know that a 5-month-old female has the potential to go into heat.

Yes, that is very young, and she is very small, but that’s nature. And, as you can imagine, there can be a horrible outcome if she’s too small to give birth … So: let’s get her spayed before she gets pregnant, OK? C-CAT can help with advice and equipment, and, depending on available trappers, may be able to assist in the process. Give them a shout at calistogacatfriends@gmail.com.

If you are already a cat friend that feeds strays and ferals, you will certainly have noticed the changes in appetite and amount of food eaten as we march into autumn.

The cat’s body tells it to consume more calories as temperatures drop, to ensure survival during the winter.

Conversely, his appetite generally decreases in the spring and summer. This is a normal cycle, so don’t worry if your tabby starts looking a bit tubby in October.

As the harvest season begins, concerns regarding rodent depredation are always present. Consider adopting a couple of barn cats for your farm or garden, and watch the rodent population virtually vanish! Introducing Rodenticides into the food chain can have unforeseen consequences poisoning cats, wildlife, and even our creeks and rivers. For more information, email CCAT at calistogacatfriends@gmail.com.

If you would like to volunteer or donate (tax-deductible) to help the feral cats in the Napa Valley area, go to CCAT’s website at calicat.org for more information.

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Stephanie Schreiber is a volunteer for the Calistoga Cat Action Team, which can be reached at calistogacatfriends@gmail.com.